LAHORE, May 27: The technical staff of the Pakistan Railways loco shed will enforce a wheel jam on the system from Tuesday (May 29) if their demands are not met.
“We have been pressing for the acceptance of our demands for the last two weeks but no practical step has been taken by the administration so far, forcing us to take the extreme step to go on an indefinite strike,” said Railways Loco Shed Technical Staff Association Secretary Inayat Gujjar on Sunday. The staff observes a four-hour token strike every day.
He said that the technical staff began their struggle with a two-hour token strike on May 14. The administration remained indifferent and on May 19 the staff decided to double the duration of their token strike from the following day.
The railways general manager (operations) and chief mechanical engineer (loco) approached the striking leaders and activists of Loco Shed Mazdoor Union on May 21. “They attempted to persuade us to end our strike on the same old pretext all our just demands have been forwarded to the finance ministry for approval. However, union leaders and activists refused to do so and informed the general manager that the token strike would go on till May 28 and from the following day a wheel-jam would be enforced in case the demands were not met,” he said.
Union President Sarfraz Khan said that the use of force would do more harm than good as inflation has made it impossible for them to make both ends meet. The pay scales of the technical staff were revised in 1985 and payment of overtime allowance had also been withheld. “The railway administration has curtailed the medical facility and denied TA, DA and GP funds to workers for the last one year or so. The administration has not been carrying out routine maintenance of residential colonies of low-grade employees in spite of deducting amounts from their salaries for the purpose. On the other hand, officers enjoy all privileges and perks,” he said.
The government should increase their pay at least by 55 per cent and also grant them dearness allowance in commensurate with the increase in prices of essential items, he said.